Grandpa Simpson once famously said of Missouri, “I’ll be deep in the cold, cold ground before I recognise Missourah!”, Shaman’s Harvest are from Missouri. Tenuous link, I know, but hell, it makes me laugh! Shaman’s Harvest have been quietly going about their business for some time now with some success, but a mammoth summer tour with Nickelback in the other 49 states that Abe Simpson does recognise should hopefully gain them new fans by the truckload. Latest album ‘Red Hands Black Deeds’ will go a long way in making those out to see Chad and his gang look up from their cellphones and pay attention. It’s dark and unflinching in places, dealing with subject matter such as depression, civil unrest, war, and immigration issues. Although at times it’s quite a heavy album, it gets the grey matter ticking over and is certainly thought provoking. It helps that it rocks like a marine on shore leave too.
Recorded refreshingly digital-free, ‘Red Hand Black Deeds’ is organic and harks back to a time when analogue was the only way to record. From the opening strains of the title track, to the last few bars of the six minute behemoth ‘Scavengers’, the album is as authentic as anything that you will be likely this year. Loads of different influences can be heard throughout. The brooding title track features a deep, foreboding vocal from Nathan Hunt that hints at Nick Cave. ‘Red Hand Black Deeds’? Blood on their hands? The bass-heavy explosion of ‘Broken Ones’ will lead to some Queens Of The Stone Age comparisons, but Hunt has a fragility and warmth to his voice that Josh Homme will never have. One of many highlights on the album, it deals with immigration issues in today’s society, and Hunt uses his Native American ancestry to highlight social injustices. Drummer Adam Zemanek pounds those skins into submission on a track that the listener simply has to air-drum to. His work on ‘The Come Up’ is also staggering. A simple drum beat will never sound as effective as it does here. A fantastic mash up of Motown swing, classic rock swagger… upbeat, uptempo, and with some neat female backing vocals as it fades out. Dealing with Hunt’s battle with depression, he sees it as “therapeutic for myself”. ‘Soul Crusher’ is another uplifting moment, funky as hell with a sleazy, seductive groove threading through it. The fuzzy guitars from Derrick Shipp and Josh Hamler are mammoth, and again, the female background vocals are highly contagious. On the flipside are the darker, heavier moments like ‘A Longer View’, and in particular ‘The Devil In Our Wake’, which has a guitar tone that has to be heard at full volume. The latter deals with the matter of war, and in Hunt’s own words, ”Shit, how did we get so divisive?”. Bassist Matt Fisher makes his mark here with some serious slabs of beef. ‘Blood Trophies’ gets better and bigger with each listen, and the softer, acoustic strains of ‘Tusk And Bone’ will live with the listener long after it fades out.
‘Red Hand Black Deeds’ is a fantastic, modern day rock record. Everything about it (except the recording process) screams 2017 and beyond. One tip… when ‘Scavengers’ fades into darkness, don’t switch off… let it run.
Available now through Mascot Label Group.
Review – Dave Stott